Friday, April 14, 2006

Caught in the Draft

I’m now on the third draft of the short story, and I’ve learned that the narrator knew that his brother was dead before the story begins, that he retrieves the astrophysicist’s body from its lonely orbit around the brown dwarf, and that the alien, All This Useless Beauty, tells the navy garrison about the narrator’s attempt to escape because, for reasons of its own, it wants his story to be more exciting.

‘Draft’ is a very flexible concept in the age of the infinitely malleable word-processed document, but I still write most stories and novels more or less as I did when I used a typewriter: each draft is printed out and marked up with corrections and notes, which form the basis of changes made to the next draft. But unlike my typewritten manuscripts, a considerable amount of redrafting happens on screen, as sentences grow or shrink, move from one place to another or vanish altogether, and I no longer have to retype pages that have more than three mistakes on them, dab on blobs of correction fluid, or make up sandwiches using carbon paper for the final draft.


Blogger Peter Hollo said...

The alien is an Elvis Costello fan? Cool!
I did love "All Tomorrow's Parties", another work of yours with a clear (popular) music reference. Come to think of it, there are probably heaps (given that anthology you co-edited some years ago...)
Looking forward to this one! I must admit I haven't read Mind's Eye yet, but it's on the top of the unread-books pile. (Slightly belated) Welcome to the bloggosphere!

April 14, 2006 3:10 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Thanks, Peter. I’ve also learned, today, that All This Useless Beauty’s real name is probably
Useless Beauty - not just because I’m overdoing the Costello references, but also to keep the
word count down.

April 14, 2006 7:35 pm  
Blogger Peter Hollo said...

You could just refer to it as "ATUB". (Joking, in case you wondered...)

April 15, 2006 1:12 pm  

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